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Issue 218

Cudelice Brazelton IV Wants You to Look Beneath the Surface

In ‘Bronzed from Silver’ at Sans Titre (2016), Paris, the artist’s hybrid metal works explores how the body serves as a tool for cultural identification

BY Oriane Durand in EU Reviews , Exhibition Reviews | 15 FEB 21

 The title of Frankfurt-based artist Cudelice Brazelton IV’s exhibition at Sans Titre (2016), ‘Bronzed from Silver’, might initially seem misleading, since neither material is present in the work. Yet, Brazelton manages to create this illusion with his ensemble of sculptures and paintings, featuring materials as hard and dark as metal, counterbalanced by the delicate assembling of objects, which at times seems on the verge of collapse.

In the centre of the space, Organ (all works 2021) is the first work encountered when entering the gallery. Four long metal screws adorned by small pieces of pudgy, bronze-hued clay hang directly from the ceiling, resembling intestines. With its mechanical parts covered in organic material, Organ speaks to the hybridity of organisms and offers a reading for the rest of the exhibition, in which each work seems to correspond to a different part of the body.

Cudelice Brazelton IV, Organ, 2021, installation view, sans titre (2016)
Cudelice Brazelton IV, Organ, 2021, iriodin, steel, clay, polyester, 217 × 38 × 3 cm. Courtesy: the artist, sans titre (2016), Paris, and Wschód Gallery, Warsaw   

In the first gallery, wedged between a window and its shutter, the subtle sound installation Counterpoint combines recordings of a river with noises from the streets of Paris. Emanating from a small speaker, mounted with a photograph of a pierced ear, the work turns the gallery window into an auditory organ. Elsewhere, the blue-ink stamps of Blemish – depicting a pair of shoes and the number four – stand out against the large white expanse of one wall like tattoos on skin. In referencing tattoos and piercings, Brazelton speaks to the accessories people wear and the modifications we make to our bodies in order to differentiate ourselves.

Cudelice Brazelton IV, Counterpoint, 2021, installation view, sans titre (2016)
Cudelice Brazelton IV, Counterpoint, 2021, audio, exciter, inkjet print, wire, battery, various dimensions. Courtesy: the artist, sans titre (2016), Paris, and Wschód Gallery, Warsaw  

This question of how objects – and at large fashion – serve as tools for (cultural) identification runs through all of Brazelton’s work but is, perhaps, most evident in the two paintings featured in the show that give the impression of being quickly pieced together. In Barb, a canvas daubed with broad brushstrokes of black paint is adorned by a synthetic leather belt, coins and magnets. Rip Technology features a canvas half-covered in synthetic black leather, edged by a precision-cut steel bar and overlain with a rubber car mat. In both works, the synthetic leather, with its scratches and mottled surface, is reminiscent of skin. Brazelton’s choice of materials and their treatment can also be read in relation to his biography: having grown up in the US Rust Belt, the artist uses steel to evoke his training as a metal cutter. In the same piece, threads hanging from the torn canvas are reminiscent of the lock of hair that falls in the middle of the artist’s forehead.

Cudelice Brazelton IV, Barb, 2021, installation view, sans titre (2016)
Cudelice Brazelton IV, Barb, 2021, acrylic, steel, glaze, synthetic leather, wood, coins, magnets on paper, 89 × 66.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist, sans titre (2016), Paris, and Wschód Gallery, Warsaw 

Like the elements of a self-portrait, the adornments, cuts and tears in Brazelton’s work relay an impression of the artist himself. By laying bare his working practices – leaving exposed the means by which component parts are conjoined in Rip Technology, for instance – Brazelton also reveals the potential of these materials to be both delicate yet brutal. His accumulations of metal objects glued tightly together and his choice of matt black and silver tones lend Barb and Rip Technology a sculptural heft, reminiscent of Melvin Edwards’s abstract steel forms. In ‘Bronzed from Silver’, Brazelton not only reveals the multiple elements that inform his art but explores the very notion of hybridity itself.

Cudelice Brazelton IV, ‘Bronzed from Silver’ runs at Sans Titre (2016), Paris, until 27 February 2021.

Main image: Cudelice Brazelton IV, Blemish, 2021, lacquer, wooden stamp, ink, various dimensions. Courtesy: the artist, sans titre (2016), Paris, and Wschód Gallery, Warsaw  

Oriane Durand is curator and writer based in Paris, France.